Nova Escola dels Encants: A pioneer in the Barcelona public school system ― 

The school is located in a post-industrial urban area on the edge of Barcelona’s Eixample, which is currently awaiting definitive planning for the Glòries area. The dispersal of the city and the lack of local references led the architects to take a forceful approach in terms of the building’s volumes and an abstract take on language.

The Glòries area, currently being transformed, pushes the building to respond to the urban scale and bursts in inevitably, in advance of the development of the final planning. Inside, neutral spaces that are open and bright create an atmosphere that promotes exchange and learning.

The façade, made from perforated sheet metal, evokes a past of industries and small workshops, and creates a permeable filter between the classrooms and the city, between the school’s activities and the street. It also serves to soften the direct sunlight and create high-quality lighting that heightens concentration and is, therefore, favorable to learning.

The classroom area generates a central space for communication and interchange, which connects to the outside through the classrooms, which are open and permeable, thanks to the wide glazed surfaces. The interior finishes provide the school with luminosity, neutrality and transparency and help encourage the institution’s commitment to a teaching model based on promoting and accompanying children’s curiosity and favoring their relationships with classmates and their surroundings.

On the façade, the use of large steel panels provides a clear-cut urban scale to the building, while simplifying the assembly and later maintenance. This latter aspect was present in all the design decisions; in this respect, the materials chosen are those with a long useful life, or elements that can be easily repaired.

The building has a high thermal performance envelope through a ventilated façade with continuous exterior insulation, while a waterproof membrane enables transpiration. The roofs also ensure a thermal insulation coefficient that is much higher than that required by regulations.

Given the characteristics of the subsoil, the weight of the building was reduced as much as possible to avoid the need for a deep foundation. The building consists of a double block connected by a central space with porticoes every 7.5 metres to adapt to the dimensions of the classrooms. The classroom spaces are covered by one-way slabs based on lightweight concrete shuttering slabs, while a solid slab that ties the whole complex together covers the remaining spaces.

Architecture: Roger Méndez (AMB)

Technical architect: Olga Méliz (AMB)

Collaborator (external): Albert Berdiè TECTRAM, David Garcia BIS, Ivan Capdevila ERF

Collaborator (office AMB): Aïda Artiz, Gisela Traby, Catalina Montserrat, Cristina Pedreira, Paula Beltran, Antonio Duran

Construction company: DRAGADOS

Photography: Marcela Grassi